The killing of four American diplomats in Benghazi last September has again become front-page news following the recent testimony by government whistleblowers.
Until now, much of the attention has been directed at the so-called talking points. Republicans argue that the narrative on Benghazi was a lie, crafted and proffered by the administration to protect itself from political fallout preceding the presidential election. Obama and his administration had long touted his success against terrorism, and a major attack at that crucial point would have been disastrous to his campaign. So the administration concocted the story about the offensive video.
Obama, himself, rejected that notion during a press briefing on May 13th, indignantly protesting: “The day after it happened, I acknowledged that this was an act of terrorism.” He did, in fact, make some vague, lawyerly reference to terrorism that day in the Rose Garden, but he must have forgotten those five interviews of his emissary, Susan Rice, wherein she unequivocally blamed the video. And he must have forgotten about his own statements on the Letterman show last September, emphatically blaming the video. Watching that performance, we can only marvel at the fluidity and conviction with which he spun his yarn. He repeated the lie during his speech at the UN General Assembly, speaking with such eloquence and aplomb that only his most cynical critics could have doubted his words. Yet, the words were all bogus – complete lies. He knew the video was irrelevant right from the start.
And now, incredibly, he’s lying about the lie. He expects us to believe that all those references to the video never happened, and he’s palpably outraged that anyone would question his integrity. He may be a master of deceit and manipulation, but just how stupid does he think we are? The scandal has left Obama’s veracity and leadership in shambles, and as the last shred of his credibility crumbles, so does the credibility of Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and all those around him who repeated, and continue to repeat the lies about Benghazi.
Obama is clearly angered by this scrutiny. From his perspective, Benghazi never should have gotten this attention. He counted on the unshakeable loyalty of his followers, the abject apathy of the American people, and the support of his sycophants in the media. What he didn’t count on were three courageous civil servants and a few tenacious congressmen determined to expose the truth.
Contrary to accusations by the left, these whistleblowers had no hidden agenda. They are career government employees who wanted the truth told about Benghazi. One of them, Greg Hicks, former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya, worked directly under Ambassador Stevens, and is a Democrat. He politically supported both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.
Looking past all the parsing, it’s now clear the administration intentionally deceived the public about the attack. That was the cover-up. We now need to focus on a more crucial issue, one potentially more damaging to the administration. We need to establish who shut down the rescue attempts. That is the scandal.
One military team was in Tripoli, ready and eager to help those diplomats. Yet, incredibly, they were ordered to “stand down.” In fact, no rescue mission was launched, nor does it seem, one was initiated. Who made that call, and on what basis?
Earlier this year, then Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, an Obama appointee, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He told the committee there was simply not enough time to rescue our diplomats. In fact, despite the proximity of numerous military bases in nearby Europe, not a single team managed to get off the ground during the seven hour siege.
Not enough time? What about that team in Tripoli that was boarding the plane to Benghazi when it was ordered to stand down? And what about the Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) stationed around the globe, assembled and trained specifically to respond to embassies in trouble?
Panetta also testified that soon after the attack began, he met with the President, who ordered “all available DOD assets to respond to the attack.” That doesn’t exactly mesh with Obama’s own words. He said, during the second presidential debate, that as soon as he found out the Benghazi consulate was “being overrun,” he was on the phone with his national security team, and gave them three instructions: beef up security in Libya and other facilities in the region, investigate what happened, find out who did this and hunt them down, because “when folks mess with Americans, we go after them.”
Putting aside the conflicting details, both men claim that a military response was approved. If that’s true, and no action was taken, then some senior military officer willfully disregarded a direct order from his Commander-in-Chief. But there is another possible scenario. What are the chances that it was all about politics? What if, on that night, the President recalled the failed hostage rescue attempt authorized by Jimmy Carter or the debacle in Mogadishu under Bill Clinton’s watch? What if that master manipulator decided he could not risk a failed rescue attempt just before an election?
To answer Hillary Clinton’s rhetorical and repugnant question, that is why we need to know more about Benghazi.
It’s often noted in politics that the cover-up is worse than the scandal. This time may be different.
Peter Lemiska is a military veteran and former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service. His assignments included four years at the American Embassy, Rome. His commentaries can be found at renewamerica.com and various other political websites, and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org